Where I'm From: Rosie Gomez, Norwood Park

This is the first in a series of stories, “Where I’m From,” about LPS elementary school teachers who returned to teach at their old schools.

Rosie Gomez teaches fifth grade in room 203 at Norwood Park Elementary School. The room holds a special place in her heart - and not only because she loves her job and her students.

This is the same room where Gomez attended fifth grade more than 10 years ago. 

“It was a long time ago but let me tell you when you come back, you definitely relive those times,” said Gomez, in her second year at Norwood Park. “You’re like, ‘Oh, I remember when this happened,’ or, “I remember what this teacher did for me.’ It’s special.”

She uses the word “special” a lot when describing Norwood Park and the surrounding neighborhood in northeast Lincoln. She grew up two blocks away from school, in the house where her mom still lives. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and student-taught in Costa Rica.

When she returned to Lincoln she started working as a substitute teacher for Lincoln Public Schools. She ended up at Norwood Park and had an experience that proved to be serendipitous. She was in the library when she heard a voice say, “Are you Rosie?” It was her fifth-grade teacher, Gary Zellweger. He was everyone’s favorite teacher, she said. 

“I didn’t think he would know who I was,” Gomez said. “He gave me a big hug. It was crazy and it made me feel even more welcome here.”

When Zellweger retired shortly thereafter, Gomez was hired to fill his position. She hopes to continue his legacy. “It was special to have him retire and pass down his position to me in my first year of teaching,” she said. 

She swells with pride when talking about Norwood Park, which is typically the smallest school in LPS in terms of enrollment.

“Norwood Park is small but the relationships you make are meaningful and they last. It makes me feel much more closely tied to what I am doing because I'm a direct result of what can come out of the school,” Gomez said. “I want students to know their future is filled with endless opportunities and I can only hope to be a part of getting them there.”

“I want them to know they’re special,” she later added.

There’s that word again.

Published: September 9, 2020, Updated: September 16, 2020